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Net Zero Is More Than Just a Box-Ticking Exercise






Commentators and media have speculated that the cost of reaching net zero could be too much for businesses and consumers as they struggle with rising costs. However, efforts towards net zero and better sustainability can deliver a wide range of benefits. With a proper strategy in place, improved sustainability has the potential to significantly reduce costs, both in the short and long term, as well as helping to unlock new innovations and improving engagement with key audiences. 

Cost Savings 

Energy costs were the primary catalyst of the cost-of-living crisis and remain substantially higher than they were pre-pandemic. While the most acute phase of the energy crisis appears to have passed, at least for now, businesses still face elevated energy costs that now make up a much larger percentage of their total overheads. 

The good news is, almost across the board, more sustainable energy is more cost effective when properly implemented, especially in the longer term which allows higher ticket technologies the time to provide a return on initial investment. A key focus of energy sustainability is improved efficiency, and the simple equation is that the less energy a site uses, the lower energy costs will be. Crucially, this can be achieved without impacting on the reliability or productivity of equipment and infrastructure. 

Renewable generation makes up another key part of the decarbonisation of energy. With energy costs from grid remaining elevated and volatile, the returns on on-site generation such as solar are better than ever. By combining with a battery storage system to create a smart microgrid, on-site generation can save even more compared to grid supplied energy, as well as providing some much-needed stability compared to unpredictable wholesale energy markets. 

Energy Independence 

Energy independence at a national scale has been a hot topic since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the impact of which on global gas supplies helped to kick the existing energy crisis into a new gear. The UK’s continued reliance on gas means it is a key issue, particularly in terms of winter capacity margin. For individual businesses, improving their own energy independence is an increasingly important aspect of an effective energy management strategy. 

Reducing reliance, and as a result exposure, to fluctuating grid-supplied electricity can be a vital part of energy cost reduction, as previously discussed, but for many sectors it is also an increasingly important part of their power resilience strategy. While the UK’s grid is typically very reliable, disruption due to narrow margins or constrained local networks remain a possibility. A smart microgrid solution that allows a site to operate independently from its grid connection, known as island mode, can help to offset these risks. For energy-intensive sectors, this can include avoiding load shedding requirements that could see them asked to reduce their site demand to help balance the grid, potentially impacting negatively on productivity. In the case of a full power disruption event, a smart microgrid can keep a site operational in a much less carbon-intensive manner than alternative technologies such as diesel generators. 

Customer Engagement 

Sustainability remains an important factor when considering purchases for both supply chain partners and consumers alike. The slight shift is that given cost pressures elsewhere, many are increasingly reluctant to pay a premium for products or services that have better sustainability credentials. However, given the potential that better sustainability clearly has for actually reducing costs, it is possible to remain competitive while also demonstrating a clear commitment to net zero to key audiences.  

For consumers, this remains an important factor for many when it comes to buying decisions, while both upstream and downstream supply chain partners will be factoring in an organisation’s sustainability performance in terms of their own Scope 3 emissions. The ability to demonstrate lower environmental impact than a competitor could be the key difference needed to land business from a key potential customer or partner, with large corporates most in tune when it comes to assessing the sustainability credentials of the businesses they work with. 

Find out more about how Powerstar can improve your sustainability while reducing energy costs here

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